Foreshadowing, which is a common authorial device across genres, is employed for wicked purposes by Gothic authors. From its inception, the Gothic has been concerned with characters' uncertain positions and lack of true knowledge; characters often have little information about the world and power structure they must navigate. Even such basics as their parentage and geographical location can be obscured from them. To maintain such characters as innocent victims and unaware of the terror that will follow, Gothic authors use foreshadowing to heighten the reader's sense of dread without the necessity of providing the characters with a clue.
The most direct and obvious Gothic foreshadowing cannot be trusted. Sometimes an omen, a prophecy, or a vision will prove true and give the reader the satisfaction of foreknowledge, such as in the case of "The Monk," when the gypsy forecasts Antonia's fate. In the same novel, however, it seems certain that Agnes will be killed, and all indications suggest she has been, but Lewis surprises the reader by allowing her to live.
Most foreshadowing in the Gothic is less obvious, relying on atmosphere and mood to convey a sense of foreboding. The Gothic writer combines these subtle elements with more obvious ones (like dreams or portents) to arrange information in such a way that a reader is primed for surprising climactic events without revealing too much information too soon. For example, in Jane Eyre (1847) Charlotte Brontë cleverly foreshadows the book's climax very subtly in Jane's first meeting with Edward Rochester then more obviously in her dreams and nightmares that follow.
Courtesy of Wendy Fall, Marquette University
See also: creepy sounds
Hughes, William, David Punter, and Andrew Smith. The Encyclopedia of the Gothic . Chichester, West Sussex, UK : Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Print.
Mulvey Roberts, Marie. The Handbook of the Gothic. New York : New York University Press, 2009. Print.